Over the past few months, the Instagram account Stop Motion Industry Stories has attempted to shed light on salaries and labor conditions by inviting stop-mo workers to anonymously share information about the issues that affect them. The stories being told paint an ugly picture of working in stop motion, and they convey the urgent need for changes within the industry.
Harassment by higher-ups in management is also pointed out, with numerous people specifically singling out a partner at Starburns, the studio behind Anomalisa, Moral Orel, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole:
The progress being made is long overdue, however, it is limited to certain segments of the animation industry. Even in Los Angeles, the hub of American animation production, not all parts of the industry are experiencing improved labor standards. Case in point: stop-motion production.
Stop-motion workers have historically lacked representation by unions and have had to fend for themselves. When it comes to wages, there is no standard salary scale and studios hold all the cards. The lack of labor standards is particularly glaring considering the highly specialized and physically-demanding nature of stop-motion production, which can take a toll on the body and expose workers to toxic chemicals.
Image at top: The Oscar-nominated feature “Anomalisa,” directed by Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman, was produced by Starburns, a studio that is cited on the Stop Motion Industry Stories Instagram page.

A labor movement has been growing in the animation industry over the past couple years and unionized artists are currently making a strong push for more equitable salaries and better working conditions.

Some of the stories discuss exposure to toxic materials without proper training and education from the studios, as well as other harsh working conditions that create health issues:

Some workers suggest that the budgets allow for better pay, but the studios are unwilling to use the money for labor and sometimes spend money on frivolous activities:

Low wages, as well as salary disparities for the same roles, are another common theme:

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